Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Music – The Fan Arrangements

It’s an understatement to say that Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica has delighted me in more ways than one. The show has met my lofty expectations of it being as enjoyable as My-HiME with its plot twists and turns. And, as I’m wont to say, the music as a whole has utterly captivated me, which is expected from pretty much anything that Yuki Kajiura lays her hands upon. Still, as good as Madoka’s music is, the torrent of positive fan reaction towards the show’s background music in particular caught me off-guard.

Normally, when you encounter anime music arrangements, you’ll tend to come across instrumental arrangements of opening and ending themes, and for good reason: those themes tend to be the most memorable musical aspects of an anime series. Rare are albums in the mold of Rozen Maiden’s Strings and Piano albums, which make such efforts feel all the more precious. So with that in mind, hearing arrangements of Connect and Magia are all within the realm of expectations. But a massive fan arrangement compilation of Madoka’s background music? Now that’s cause for excitement! Check out the embedded Youtube video after the jump:

So here we have it! The video segment opens up with the ED theme, Magia, and the instrumentals do an excellent job of channeling the intensity of the grief and pains the characters experience in Madoka. At about the 3:02 mark, the melody does a clever transition over to the OP, Connect, for a short while before going back to Magia. Keep your ears open for that as you go through it because it can be easy to miss.

5:00 mark: A pulsating rhythm leads us into “Mami’s Theme.” I’m fairly sure that years from now, when people discuss Madoka’s soundtrack, this piece is going to be favorably compared to Kajiura’s other famous choral tracks like “Salva Nos” and “Himeboshi.” Part of the reason lies in its implementation within the anime. During this segment, the titular character is engaged in a wonderfully captivating choreographic delight. The music and chorus that sounds out as she whirls around, firing off her large collection of guns, lends the scene an aura of elegance and grace, effectively ingraining it in our heads for a long time to come.

7:57 mark: For some reason, my brain is telling me this is the preview music. I don’t recall it being used in the anime proper, but that could just be my memory being off. Anyhow, I’ve always loved this melody for bringing with it an aura of mystery and, in fitting with Madoka’s overall atmosphere, a cloud of melancholia, as it makes us wonder what tragedies are in store for the characters.

9:52 mark: Tragedy seems to be the big theme in this segment. The vibraphones move slowly and deliberately in the introduction, giving way to a mournful flute melody that expresses the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that drapes over the entire setting. This track is one of Kajiura’s better melancholy tracks as it tugs upon your heartstrings as you look for that ray of hope to burst forth and relieve the suffering the characters are experiencing.

13:29 mark: Someone remind me, is this part pretty much Sayaka’s descent into tragedy? I don’t remember exactly when this gets played, but the Spanish guitar that comes in later at 14:22 somehow reminds me of the series of unfortunate decisions where Sayaka’s idealism falls to the brink of despair and… ahh but I shall keep silent here. Suffice to say, this track feels emotionally heavy. Others have called it a swan song. I’m going to say that description sounds about right.

16:00 mark: The ominous, heavy steps, emphasized through the cymbal crashes and the foreboding strings convey the monstrosity that Kyouko has to fight. So while there’s a menacing aura that’s highlighted in the continuous motive (the motive you hear in “Magia’s” introduction), there’s also a torrid downpour of tragedy, as a character who doesn’t want to kill must do so so that others may live.

19:00 mark: A variation of the theme you hear in 9:52. As I listen through this segment, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming resolve that refuses to back down, no matter how many dead-ends are encountered. The crescendo that comes in around 21:00 serves to drive that persistence home, one that continually struggles against the imminent tragedies until the person in question is all but dead from the endeavor. It’s almost heartbreaking to think of all the tragedies Homura’s had to endure as she tries to create that happy ending.

24:00 mark: A really upbeat, flowing arrangement of “Connect.” In this version, one can’t help but taste the sweet victory that the characters have achieved. The buoyant tones wouldn’t be out of place in the ending theme of an RPG. So in that vein, the energy that this arrangement exudes is appropriate. We want the characters to find their happy ending, don’t we?

Final Notes: No standalone soundtrack in sight, but I do hope that Madoka gets one since I’d hate to have to actually buy the bundled CD/DVD/Blu-ray box set just to get my Kajiura fix, especially when the music is as good as it is. Anyhow, shoutout goes to Ottocycle once more, who somehow keeps me abreast of these sorts of things.

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

18 thoughts on “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Music – The Fan Arrangements

  • April 12, 2011 at 8:18 am
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    Kudos to the people who took the time to compose these wonderful covers and compile them together in this video (and to you for reviewing it ). ^_^b

    7:57 – Yes, this song usually plays for the previews, and the longer version was played in ep 10, during Homura’s training (and the fighting of the witch).

    I think 14:22 (13:29) is the start of a new song (also because there is a picture change). The first part is played when Sayaka is with Kyousuke in the hospital, with the depressing, sorrowful mood. 14:22 (with the Spanish guitar) is played in ep 8 with the monochrome witch and when Sayaka… breaks down and loses her grip. (I’m trying very hard not to spoil).

    I love that last theme song (19:00). I like the main theme song in general, but this mix gives it an boost in epicness, passion, and inspiration. Though there is tragedy around her, Homura will fight to set things right, no matter how many times she may fail.

    The ending of this medley seems somewhat out of place after the previous song. The happiness is jarring. Though I suppose it leaves the audience out on a happy note (I like how this medley started with the ED and ended with the OP – nice touch).

    Oh, and the OST for Madoka Magica is slated for end of May. Source: http://vgmdb.net/album/24725

    Reply
  • April 12, 2011 at 10:30 am
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    Epic! At first, I thought it was going to be 25 minutes of one continuos piece, but this is still epic. I reproduced one track but it’s not really an arrangement like some of these are.

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  • April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am
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    Is the fanmade soundtrack available in a lossless format, or am I going to have to hack it apart as is?

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  • April 12, 2011 at 11:17 am
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    Great find, even my poor music-listening ears realized how completely awesome the soundtrack for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is. “Mami’s theme” is my favorite, it’s so uplifting even in such a dark series.

    Reply
    • April 12, 2011 at 5:44 pm
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      @plasma991
      Ah, yeah, I thought the picture shift might have been an indication that it’s a new track. My initial listen saw it as a natural segue though and even if they do turn out to be two separate tracks, they do make up a ‘Sayaka Suite’ rather well.

      As for the OST, the only gripe is that it’s a packaged deal. I do hope that they release a standalone score since that’s what I’m most interested in.

      @lelangir
      Now composing a seamless, cohesive Madoka medley would be an interesting challenge! I’m thinking that somehow, this could work as a symphonic poem or something since the music and story lends to it a story that could definitely work out.

      @ToastCrust
      According to the person who created the compilation, there should be a few download sites that you can go to to obtain the snippets of what’s featured here.

      @steelbound
      Isn’t it though? Of course, Mami’s shining moment of glory does have the benefit of taking place before the sinister shroud of darkness falls upon the series, giving it the epic feel that scene deserves. A couple weeks and the conclusion will be upon us!

      Reply
  • April 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm
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    Absolutely stunning. Early in the show, I was absolutely blown away by this anime’s gorgeous soundtrack. I cannot wait to get my hands on the Original Soundtrack. I legendary soundtrack for years to come.

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  • April 13, 2011 at 5:36 am
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    Have to agree with the surprise that the general BGMs are of such good quality. GWith the OST coming out so late, the number of fan creations are really an enjoyable stopgap of sorts

    Here are a few more i find very nice though the arrangement is a lot more orthodox (boring to some perhaps), unlike the FF RPG feel of the rearranged Magia (a very different feel from the original Magia)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vihXtuhi87o
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1D4juiTwA0&feature=player_embedded

    Reply
  • April 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm
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    I actually have the orchestral arrangements of Magia and Connect featured here (they’re made by the same person, “K.M.”) but I never knew there were so many arrangements of every track on the OST. Kajiura Yuki’s music sure is powerful.

    For another great arrange on Mami’s theme, here’s one sung by the talented fandubbers at Nico Nico Douga:

    Reply
  • April 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm
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    Mami’s theme is a variation (or autoplagiarism from another point of view) of a not-so-old kajiura track called “Voyagers”, recently released in her “The Works for soundtracks” compilation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z4f6lrskhA

    i’m also waiting for a standalone release, if the show has become pretty popular there should be a light of hope.

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    • April 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm
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      @kevo
      Though the tracks featured here are more of the memorable angst/battle music, I daresay the school life themes are pretty good and should serve as good comparable to My-HiME which really did wonders in meshing the two. Here’s hoping for that standalone release.

      @Zaku Fan
      The response to all the awesome BGM has been nothing short of… awesome? And yeah, I’ve been really enjoying the Celtic renditions of some of Sayaka’s fall. Shows that Kajiura’s works have always had a bit of a Celtic influence and it’s nice to see that made more apparent.

      @Suzushina Yuriko
      Always trust NND to come up with that, but yes, a testament to how skilled of a composer Kajiura is.

      @Maxwell9
      Thanks for the link! That’s probably an album I’ll have to grab because I’ve heard a number of tracks from there just this week and it’s not one I can pass up since Kajiura’s been really solid and consistent.

      Reply
  • April 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm
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    love the music, some parts remind me of kara no kyoukai and madlax

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    • April 15, 2011 at 11:30 pm
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      @some loser
      Trust Kajiura to be able to bring a same, yet somewhat different sound to make a soundtrack compelling, yet doesn’t sound like something that’s been done to death.

      Reply
  • April 22, 2011 at 1:52 am
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    I just finished the final episode a not long and saw the tweet on this. Thanks so much to you for breaking it down for us and spreading the word and many thanks to the fans that produced it for viewing and listening on youtube!

    The site has changed since I last visited! ^_^

    Reply
    • April 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm
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      @Sapphire
      We’ve been doing some renovating for sure. B-b-b-b-but are you implying you don’t visit on a regular basis? I’m crushed!

      All kidding aside though, I’m really looking forward to seeing the finale since one of my staff members tweeted about how good the music worked in concert with the end and that’s something I’m looking forward to seeing. When the situation calls for it, Yuki Kajiura sure can come up big and deliver with the epic tunes!

      Reply
  • April 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm
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    Wow, late comment.

    RE: Symphonic poem; it’d be really cool if someone would summarize all of Madoka in, say, a half or hour of music. Here’s to hoping some se/prequel comes out so that the Madoka rabu can be revived again (because, face it, the last episode aired and now it’s going to go out of the spotlight)!

    Reply
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